Businesses urged to take cybercrime seriously as threat grows
With reports of phishing and online scams on the rise, C&W Business Jamaica (CWBJ) is urging businesses to prioritise cybersecurity training for its staff as a means of fighting these threats.
Director of Enterprise, Government, and IT Solutions Carol Robertson says most cyberattacks constitute the theft of customer information and/or money, along with the loss of business or customer contacts and can disrupt an entity’s operations.
Robertson explained that while cybersecurity software and systems are important in the fight against cybercrime, keen attention must be paid to educating staff on how to recognise and minimise IT threats.
“The greatest vulnerability is the user and so the first line of defence is also the user. It’s therefore critical that employees are trained and that they take personal responsibility and accountability for safeguarding information, network and infrastructure alike,” Robertson said.
She was speaking during a recent Twitter Spaces chat hosted by the Universal Service Fund. The discussion focused on cybersecurity developments, trends, and mitigation plans.
In her remarks, Robertson shared that neither private nor public-sector entities are immune to cyber breaches, and that such incidents can result in loss of revenue and public trust while being costly and onerous to repair.
According to the Major Organised Crime Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), more than $12 million is lost annually due to cybercrime. Global losses due to cybercrime are estimated between a low of US$1 trillion in 2020 to US$6 trillion in 2021.
Robertson emphasised that vigilance by businesses in safeguarding their networks with the appropriate software, hardware, and regular training is crucial during this age of ‘hackers for hire’.
“We are now seeing cybercrime being offered as a service whereby cybercriminals are facilitating illegal activities for others at a cost, usually through the dark web,” Robertson said.
She added that C&WBJ continues to support the business sector with specialised solutions aimed at making IT operations secure even as it, too, grapples with cybercrime, specifically theft and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure and network elements.
According to the C&WBJ director, the company has experienced service disruptions for the past several years due to the theft and destruction of its cables, batteries, and other equipment.
The negative impact of these activities, she said, is far-reaching, causing interruptions in the services provided to the Government, including emergency response services; large enterprises; the financial sector; medium, small and micro-sized entities, as well as residential customers.`
She called on members of the public, customers, and other interested parties to assist in safeguarding the company’s network infrastructure.
“We require the support of all stakeholders in the society, including residents, to bring a stop to this because we are all victims of this brand of cybercrime, particularly in this era of work from home and online schooling,” Robertson said.
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She shared that the company continues to engage the Government to find solutions to the problem of theft and vandalism and encouraged the business community to add its voice to the discussion.
“Generally, the scourge of theft and vandalism negatively impacts the economy in a major way as businesses and communities grind to a halt without access to online services. Further, the vision of having a connected Jamaica is compromised,” Robertson said.
She added that nevertheless, Flow (CWB Jamaica’s sister company) continues to invest heavily to restore services to affected residential and business customers, dealing with both increased replacement and restoration costs.
“We have had to redirect funds to the restoration efforts as well as a costly asset protection programme. Redirecting these funds has limited our ability to further deploy services to unserved and underserved sections of the island at the rate we would like,” Robertson said.
Despite the challenges, Flow remains committed to upgrading its networks and improving service to its customers. But Robertson noted that more investments could be made if some of the funds did not have to be redirected to the extensive restoration efforts.
Flow also continues to deploy fibre-to-the-home as the service provider works to future-proof its network and reduce its vulnerability. Since 2020, the company has expanded its fibre network into over 500 communities across Jamaica.